Thursday, December 22, 2011

Running with Hobbits

Read (our very own) Vanessa's article on today, about what Hobbits have taught her about running.  The article made me smile and made me remember the fun in running.

So I decided to repost it here for all of you to enjoy it.

Running with Hobbits. repost.

Happy Holidays (if I don't post before then)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Are You Doing For Your Birthday?

Nicole and Gail showing the pearly whites prior to heading out

When Nicole told me she had a crazy idea to ring in her 39th Birthday, I was thinking ok, this should be interesting, what could it be. A few thoughts ran through my head (a couple I cannot post because this is a family friendly blog), maybe take in Teemu's return to Winnipeg hockey game, maybe crack a bottle of wine open, etc.

Should I have I been surprised when with this little sly smile, she says, "Let's go for a midnight run tonight, maybe 15 miles or so." Well, let me tell you, numerous thoughts ran through my head as I contemplated this suggestion. It's December, in Winnipeg and running at midnight, sure why not, this could be interesting. So with this in mind, we secured a sitter for the kids, Nicole got a hold of the other crazy in her life, Gail and the planning commenced.

The plan, I would go get the sitter between 10 and 10:30, so we could be on the road by 11:00 to pick up Gail for our little adventure. Well great plans always come with some adversity, and I am a firm believer in "Go Big or Go Home", so in all my wisdom I headed out to pick up D or HashBoy as he is so warmly known by in the WH3, with only my faint recollection of where he lived. This would normally be ok because if I didn't recognize the house, then I could just pull out the cell phone and call home to have Nicole confirm the address, well that would be perfect if I remembered my phone. So as I cruised down his street, I thought to myself, I think the house number is 30, well let me tell you that was wrong. As I was sitting outside number 30, I suddenly thought to myself, no this isn't right, the front of the house doesn't look right and I'm pretty sure they don't have a white truck. Great, their going to think they have a stalker sitting outside there house, and the blue and red lights are going to be showing up any minute. So with this in mind, and to ensure there was no bars and guy's named Bubba in my future, I figured it would be safer for me to make the 10 minute drive back home and get the right address before our outing turned into something other than what we had originally foreseen. By the way I was close '38' could be taken as '30' couldn't it.

Anywho, once the sitter was secured and settled in at the house and Nicole all decked out in her Birthday present, a Nuu Muu running dress (not sure why this is important but it sure put a smile on her face and it did look good on her), we headed off to pick up Gail for the run that was serving a couple of purposes. Not only was this a Birthday Run celebration for my wife, but also I deemed it the Inaugural Winnipeg Division of the Canadian Chapter of the Barefoot Runners Society (man that was a mouthful) Group Run. Even though none of us were actually barefoot (I was sporting my ZemGear 360 split toes, Nicole her Minimus Trail Shoes and Gail her trashed Asics), we were going to see where the trail took us on this beautiful December night.

Starting off in the Tim Horton's parking lot at about 11:30pm, we must of looked like three weirdo's to the people inside who were huddled over the Canadian alternative to crack cocaine (Timmies coffee) as they peered outside at us. I can't see what the big deal was, one guy with funny looking reflective shoes, running tights and a head lamp with two hot women also sporting head lamps heading out on a run. Nothing to see here folks, and no officer we have not been drinking, honestly.

Just leaving the starting point who would of thunk
so much attention would be raised by some runners
on a December night run

That almost looks like a Nan Noo, Nan Noo wave from Nicole.

As we headed up the road, smiling, laughing and joking about how people thought we were crazy, I'm sure we were getting some interesting looks as the cars passed by. I say, if you can't have a little fun along the way, what is the point, life is to short not to let loose. We got to the entry point of the Assiniboine Forest with good time and proceeded through the closed gates (oooohhh, aren't we the rebels) and had a quick discussion on what the plan was. Both Gail and I chimed in with, "It's your birthday, its your call", so after a couple of quick photos, the turning on of the head lamps we were off.

Nicole and I at the start of the Assiniboine Forest Trailhead

It has to be the most surreal feeling to run trail in pitch blackness with only the light from a headlamp to guide you, even with three you can usually see about 10 feet in front of you at best. This really makes you focus on your running form and enhances the rest of your senses to compensate for your lack of sight. Even though Assiniboine Forest is in the middle of the city, it is populated by numerous deer, skunks, many different varieties of birds, the occasional fox, coyote and sometimes a cougar (and I don't mean the ones stalking young prey at the local watering holes) if you believe some of the stories. So some of the sounds that come from the deep dark woods are interesting, you have the creak of a tree branch in the distance, a shaloof of snow falling from a tree, then a crack as Nicole runs into a tree, then followed by laughter as it registers what she has just done. I will elaborate more on this later.

It always is an adventure when I run with these two, it is definitely not about speed nor about distance (at least not always), it is more about the adventure and to see what new twist they can throw into a morning or night run. This one was no exception, as we ran along the trails through the woods towards one of the clearings and a little hillock which would in turn become one of Nicole's areas of pure enjoyment, the ever elusive and endangered downhill run (remember we live in Manitoba). The downhill run to Nicole is like me finding a ice cold beer conveniently bagged and tucked away on a Hash House Harrier Run, it turns her into a giddy little school girl. She starts giggling and laughing as she picks up momentum and pulls away from everyone. Gail and I looked at each other, and all I could think at the time is, typical with a smile and laughed. At this point, I did not see it but a reliable resource has informed me, that in her bravado, Nicole turned around and started to run backwards and 'crack' right into a tree. When we arrive Nicole is standing there slightly dazed but laughing and smiling as she was rubbing the back of her head. Who ever said running was boring, obviously has never run with these two. All I could do was snicker and make sure she was ok.

After the 'Great Tree Incident of 2011', we carried on our way through the forest towards the Harte Trail. We hit the boardwalk over the swampy area (that was currently frozen) and Gail starts mentioning that this reminded her of the story of the Three Billy Goat's Gruff, this got me into reciting bits and pieces of the story that I knew. I continued to have the story run through my head off and on through out the run, thanks Gail. We broke out onto the Harte Trail and turned to the right, or so I thought, and continued on till we hit Shaftsbury Road to the east. This is a funny thing as well as I was sure we were heading west when we hit the trail, but apparently not, this is why you do not follow me in a race as I tend to get lost just as much as Gail does. Poor sense of direction all around by the group. As we rounded the corner and started heading to the west (yes it actually was to the west) along the Harte Trail to finish the loop to Haney Street and then back to Tim's to get a well deserved coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

It was a good run overall, full of laughs, smiles and discussions about crazy bikers who talk about what to do when they fall through the ice of a lake (personally I would think you would avoid trying this but who am I to say, I run barefoot in the snow occasionally) and upcoming races and plans for next year. Nicole discussing her plan to run 40 miles for her birthday next year, because you know when you turn 39 + 1 that is the right thing to do. Overall we ran 5 fun filled miles through the dark on slightly icy streets and trails. Nicole found a new friend in a tree that was quite happy to give her a goose egg for her birthday, and I have had a smile on my face since last night thinking back on the adventure.

So what do you have planned for your birthday?

Nicole and Gail heading out

Running along Grant Avenue in Winnipeg at 11:45 pm
Getting ready to head out into the great dark unknown

Only Gail could find a tree to stand in front
of with leaves still hanging on in December

The Birthday Girl and Gail running up Harte Trail

Ahhh, coffee, tea and HC awaits at the Tim Hortons

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Fall Running Summary

I have put together a short summary for this post since I have gotten so behind on my blog. Here are some of the Run Smiley barefoot runnings I’ve been doing in the fall of this year.

Warsaw 30k Point to Point

For my Run Smiley Virtual Run, on Saturday September 24, I ran the Runner’s Life Point to Point 30k from Peterborough to Warsaw. I had run this once before in the spring of this year, but this time I wasn’t training for a marathon. Without having put as much mileage into my training I found this distance to be a bit of a challenge. However, the biggest challenge was the surface conditions for a section in the middle of the run. The addition of the pea-gravel for about 5k of the run was no treat either, but my feet will be that much better for it. 30k Time: 3:15.

Turkey Trot

A great barefoot run through the Ganaraska Forest followed by good food, drink and hot-tubbing. 15k Time: 1:38.

Some converts?

Warkworth 8 Miler

I ran this country road/trail race once before 2 years ago and finished in 1:15. I was happy with my time this year considering it was quite windy but at least it was 10°C and the sun was out for most of the race. 13k Time 1:08.

Runway 5k Win

Wow! I actually won a race! It wasn’t a “real” race since it was a charity walk/run event, but still I have never won one of those before either. 5k Time 22:40. Then I went on in my euphoria to race a Halloween costume 5k trail race. A very successful fun-filled day for me. :-)

Halloween 5k

Not a bad time considering this was my second race of the morning. I started off too fast, but soon realized that I had already spent most of my energy. I was able to settle into a doable pace and finish strong though. 5k Time 24:26. There were a lot of good costumes this year. Good times!

Road2Hope Half Marathon

I drove to Hamilton for the race in the morning. I had eaten breakfast at 3am and was on the highway by 4am. So I was feeling quite hungry by the time the race started. I started out fast, maybe too fast. A little before the 3k aid station I got a stitch pain under my lower right rib and had to walk. I drank some water and walked a little after the aid station as well. I tried to relax to keep the pain away and at that point I was starting to descend the hill. So I relaxed my legs, sped up my feet and went flying past many people. By the time I got to the flat part around 10k I was feeling pretty tired. At that point I thought I was shooting for 2 hours. Then Bob came by on a bike and motivated me by telling me I was still on track for 1:45. By 15k Mabel had caught up to me and was pulling away. I decided I would do whatever it took to stay with her. Every so often she would get ahead of me and I would have to push it to catch up. I was wondering if she was as tired as I was because she didn’t look it. In the last kilometer I noticed I was in front of her but I didn’t dare look back. I pushed with all I had left to get to the finish. I was able to do a final sprint in the last hundred meters to pass four or five people in front of me. I was very surprised and happy when I read in the results that I had just run a new half marathon PB with a time of 1:44:41.


I met up with Arlen from ZEMgear Canada after the race in Hamilton. I told him a bit of my running history and about my experience with the Zems last winter. He asked me if I would write on the ZEMgear blog and I said I would. He then gave me a free pair of the new 360 split-toe model, a ZEMgear t-shirt and said I was now an official ZEMgear Runner.

Last year’s model was great for snowy bitterly cold runs, but couldn’t stand up to the rough surfaces.

I will be testing this year’s new and improved 360 model. Now I am just waiting for the cold snowy weather.

Whitby 10k

Two years ago I ran the 10 miler in Whitby with Paul and Vanessa. This year I ran the 10k and the temperature was about 10°C warmer although there was a bit of a wind. I ran this with Deb, Bob and Kevin. They are all quite fast and I wanted to get a 10k PB here, but I really wanted to try to keep up to Bob. I realized that was a mistake at about 3k. Bob and I started out very fast (faster than I usually start a 5k). By the 3k mark Bob was starting to leave me behind and I was left to try to get through the next 7k with a fatigued body. I was able to pick up my sluggish pace for a nice sprint at the end encouraged a lot by Bob yelling “HEY, IT’S THE BAREFOOT RUNNER FROM PETERBOROUGH!” and running the last several meters with me. Thanks Bob. Although I couldn’t keep up to Bob’s 42:36 time, I did get my PB with a 46:14 time and best of all free chili and beer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From the Horse’s Mouth – An Interview With Caballo Blanco

Portrayed as an evasive ghost and the lone wanderer of Mexico’s Copper Canyons, Caballo Blanco, AKA Micah True, is a rather busy man. Between touring the world to spread awareness about the Tarahumara (Raramuri, “The lightfooted ones”, is their real name) and organizing his now-famous Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, he remains deeply committed to his way of life and has a very contagious love for the sport, his people and the place he calls home.

Away from Urique in a recent trip to the city of Creel, where he manages the purchase of the maize vouchers distributed to runners who finish the 51-mile race, he took some time to answer FlintLand’s questions. We humbly bring them to you as-is, unaltered… straight from The Horse’s Mouth.

FL - The Born to Run fame has had many effects on your life, first by putting you under the spotlight, then by bringing awareness to the Raramuri and their struggle. You seem to be able to reconcile both, and you’ve been very busy this year traveling the world and giving talks. What is the message you carry?

CB – “Run for peace”. I don't really use words like "struggle" or "plight" in regards to the Raramuri. WE are all [humans] on the same earth and it’s up to all of us to honor and take care of her.

FL - As the creator and race director of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon (CCUM), your prime objective is to rekindle and celebrate the running culture of the Raramuri. Did the race have an influence on that culture? Do you see concrete results of your actions?

CB - More Raramuri are running again. The people are gaining both materially and in deeper ways because they are re-realizing a running tradition [although our race is free-style trail running and not the traditional ball race... ] But, they are running. And they are running more rarajipares [ball races] as well. And they have the nutritional means now to do so.

FL - You are very protective of the Raramuri culture, both in your talks and in organizing the CCUM. Do you think the culture is at risk? Have there been negative impacts from the outside world?

CB - WE are ALL at risk -:} Every action causes reactions. I am a little guarded, realizing that all change is imminent and all people must adapt. The Raramuri are very progressive and adaptable, even in their traditional ways. They are kind of a running contradiction. Traditional and progressive simultaneously. Proud and humble at the same time.

FL - You bring a lot of relief in the Copper Canyons through a non-profit organization called Norawas de Raramuri (Friends of the Raramuri). What is the vision of that organization and how does it help the people?

CB - To help encourage and enable the people to help themselves to continue to run Free! To take pride in being who they are and know that they are respected and looked upon as positive examples. The Raramuri are bringing "relief" onto themselves, and us, through inspiration. Yes, the economy of the region has improved greatly in large part because of our race event.... It has planted a seed of hope.

FL - You have mentioned that the harvests this year have been very small due to a drought in the Canyons and that the Raramuri need help to secure basic food staples and supplies. How much is needed?

CB - I don't know. NOTHING is needed as the Raramuri will make do as they always have; they will survive as always… ANYTHING is appreciated. This season’s running projects will bring over 1,500 costales [250 kg sacks] - 75 tons of maize [the food value in vouchers to be redeemed at community markets to purchase what they want/need]… and substantial cash to the top 10 men and women, many of whom will be Raramuri. That windfall of nourishment will assist the people considerably and boost the economy of the whole region, for Mexicans and Raramuri alike.

FL - How can our readers support you in your efforts?

CB - Run with us -:} is the best… or make a donation directly to the Raramuri [no overhead or salaries to board members--ALL volunteer, including expenses] to the non-for-profit organization Norawas de Raramuri. Tax deductible in the USA… Karma deductible elsewhere -:}

FL - You have mentioned several times that there are companies and organizations out there using the name or the image of the Raramuri and not giving back to the community. Are you on to them? Do you plan to expose them and try to make them change their ways?

CB – That’s the way of the world… No; I am not going to "expose" them nor get anybody to change there ways. Set an example; and maybe some of them will pick it up and do the same [set examples]. We all have our freedom of choices and actions.

FL - You have taken some distance from Born to Run’s contents, and now there’s a movie underway. It seems like the book and the upcoming movie have motivated you to start writing your own story, “From The Horse’s Mouth”. Can you tell us more about it? What will your book be about?

CB - Born To Run was/is a very good book/story.

"Born To Run Free: True Trails From The Horse's Mouth".
I have written a story based on living experiences previous to the book. The book just gives it more content and experiences to draw on… It also has provided me a certain voice. It is up to me to use that voice and whatever notoriety I have acquired from the book to use in good ways. It is up to me... No Mas.

FL - The Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon 2012 is fast approaching. You recently announced that up to 60 runners from many countries will participate this year. In the future, do you think the race will remain an event of exception or will it eventually hit the mainstream?

CB - 75 international runners and I don't know, maybe 50 Mexico nationals and a couple hundred Raramuri. I don't know if it will hit the mainstream. Depends on how you define mainstream -:] Kind of already has.

FL - What do you envision for the CCUM in the future?

CB - I don't know. WE will see.

Run Free!

Caballo Blanco

Following Caballo’s suggestion, I will be joining him and the other runners, the Mas Locos, for a celebration of peace on March 4, 2012. If you are an avid Run Smiley / FlintLand reader and can spare a couple dollars, please make a donation to support the organization Norawas de Raramuri. Even better, pack your bag and travel down to the Copper Canyons and join the celebration!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Run or Walk. Fast or Slow. It's all Good

[Plenipotentiary Note:  We had this post sent to us from Melissa who writes for her blog "Disciplined Indulgence".  You can find the original post here]

Run, Walk, Hop, Skip, Jog, or Crawl
Miles are miles
As long as you enjoyed the journey,
there is no way I will judge how you got there...
and neither should you.
: )

Sunday, May 15th, 2011
I enjoyed a rainy day, cheering on my wonderful man and many others
who were participating in the Pasadena Marathon.
Mister AC smiles while running in the rain during the Pasdena Marathon
(Gotta love the foggy/rainy camera effects)
; )

I especially love to cheer for the walkers who are nearing the finish line
becuase many of them think they don't measure up
to the runners flying past them.
Other than the regular cheering of
good job, you're almost there, and the usual, I also say things like:
"Walkers take it slow cuz it feels good-just ask their girlfriend/boyfriend"
"Walkers get their money's worth by being out there longer"
"Walkers need love too"

Everyone smiles when they hear a cheer for them especially the walkers!

This little tid-bit kinda broke my heart
I was cheering on a group of runners who were speeding by,
when a group of walkers came into view.
I started cheering for them too.
I noticed they were all looking at the runners and didnt look too happy. 
I said "looking good you guys, you're almost there, you should be proud!"
One woman who was wearing a 1/2 marathon bib, shook her head and said "we're just walking."
I said
You've just covered 13 miles!
She said
But we just walked. We didn't Run. Runners are better.

I just stood there. Stunned. Sad.
Sad she felt that way. Sad, that instead of being proud of the fact that she just covered 13 miles
(while not being a spring chicken nor being especially fit)
she decided to compare herself to the people running.

Many people I know feel pressured to Run
Thinking that as a walker, they are not "good enough".

To any runner, the following questions may appear to be silly
but to a person who isn't confident with their physical abilities or who have heard too many times things like "running is bad for your body"
(remember, running isn't bad for your body, people are bad to their body)
they are good, solid questions.

When someone comes to me and asks
How do I start running?
I want to learn to run, what should I do?
Do you think I could ever run?

I don't answer right away. First,  I ask
Why do you want to run? Is a bear chasing you? You afraid of something?

People have many reasons why they want to start running
And all that matters is that you want to start.
Everyone has different goals.
Whether you're fast, slow, go long or short distances, like roads, treadmills, or long as you enjoy it, and continue to enjoy it, just keep enjoying it!

The best way to start running
Put one foot in front of the other, pick up the pace, and keep going!
Never feel pressured to run.
Some people prefer to enjoy the slow pace of walking because it affords a person the time to see, smell, and hear things
that can be missed while one is running.
Some people prefer running because of the speed, the freedom,
and the excitement.

How much, how fast, and how far you run is up to you!
Some people try it for a while and never really get into it.
Others take to it like a duck to water and you just can't stop them.
Some dabble in it whenever it fits into their schedule.
No matter what one's relationship with running turns into, there is enough room and respect on the road for everyone
as long as everyone is respecting themselves.
All that matters is that we put one foot in front of the other and enjoy every step.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hi guys!  I haven't been writing much lately for Run:), though I've been running -- a lot.  I'm training for my first ultra, and so much of my running hasn't been "smiley" per se.  Enjoyable, yes, but more practical (gotta get in those runs!) than in the spirit of this site.  Last weekend, however, I had a fantastic 22 mile run, and finally had something to share with my Run:) family.  See you around!  
A lot of marathoners complain about the LSR -- the long, slow run -- but those runs are what I live for, the runs that make me not just like running but have me addicted to the sport.  Of course, that might be the difference between someone who finishes a marathon and thinks, "I wonder if I can do that faster?" and someone like me who thinks, "I wonder if I can go even farther?"
While I love all my long runs, the runs I revel in are the ones that take me somewhere new: when running goes past exercise or even moving meditation and becomes exploration.  I love turning down a street and staring down the length of an avenue I've never seen, passing through the shadows of foreign churches and housing projects, watching the skin tones and languages and food and the clothing and style of housing change from one neighborhood to the next.
This Sunday was one of those long runs, and its been a while.  Most of my long runs during my ultra training have been local and meandering, many of them involving circling Prospect Park again and again.  Since the Marathon on the 23rd, I hadn't had a good long run at all.  I spent the week after the race mending my knee, then the long weekend of Thanksgiving was a lot of time with my partner and kids and taking it easy.  Last weekend I just fit in 10 miles, so I was really anticipating my scheduled 20 miles Sunday.  When I started running, it helped me kick the tail-end of my addiction to cigarettes, but there's no denying the shift involved trading one compulsion for another: 14 days after running a marathon, I felt twitchy from not having run any long distances "recently."  I also was starting to feel a bit anxious in terms of my training, since January 7th is fast approaching .
When thinking about my run beforehand, I wanted something the opposite of the Brooklyn Marathon -- instead of looping the same area, I wanted to go as far as possible.  Before my run I went on line, and looked at points about 10 miles from our apartment.  One option was the Western Tip of the Rockaways, somewhere I'd never been before.  I had a destination -- I threw my camera and some gels in my Camelback and headed off.
It was a perfect winter day for a run: clear and crisp.  For the first twenty minutes or so I a ran through familiar ground, west three blocks to Nostrand, then south along Nostrand towards Eastern Parkway.  I crossed the Parkway, and a few blocks further came to Empire State Boulevard.  Here I turn East to head to my school, or West to head to Prospect Park.  I'd never continued South before, so from here on everything was new.
My route was simple: head south on Nostrand to Flatbush, turn right, and continue south-east on Flatbush until it ended.  I ran through Crown Heights, then at the edge of Ditmas Park, turned on Flatbush at the Triangle Shopping Center.  From there Ditmas faded into Flatlands; the surrounding buildings grew shorter and the number of restaurants with parking-lots and drive-thrus increased as New York's public-transportation thinned towards the further reaches of the borough.
When I passed the King Plaza Mall, the city came to an abrupt halt.  Avenue U marked the end of apartments and corner stores, and beyond it was water and trees, empty fields and water.  I had no idea where I was at the time, but later found out Marine Park was to my right, Mill Basin to my left.  Eventually the sidewalk became unkempt, more shattered concrete than actual path, and I had to cross the on-ramps to the Belt Parkway.
Flatbush continued on the other side of the Parkway, and my broken sidewalk met up with the Jamaica Bay Bike path as it  passed Floyd Bennett Field, which seemed to be a jumble of wilderness preserve, dilapidated and graffiti covered warehouses, and abandoned airstrips that had been repurposed for amateur drag-racing.  Past Floyd Bennett Field, Flatbush finally ended in the Gil Hodges Bridge.  The bridge spanned the mouth of Jamaica, and as I ran across it I had a fabulous panorama of the Brooklyn shore and the borough's skylines in the distance: the Citi Bank tower north in Queens, the Williamsburg Bank tower in downtown Brooklyn, and behind it all the towers of Manhattan, clearly identifiable even at this distance.  Nearer, Coney Island was visible on the other side of the bay.
On the far side of the bridge was the narrow peninsula of the Rockaways.  At the point I was headed for the land was less than half-a-mile wide, so I could see the beach on this side of the bay and, on the other side of the thin strip of streets and houses, the Atlantic Ocean.  I ran off the bridge by Jacob Riis Park, and the area felt very un-New York: deserted and dilapidated in a way that felt more mid-Western than East Coast.  I walked along the shore for a few minutes, finished the last of my HEED, then turned around and headed back home.
Because my route was out and back, my return was obviously identical to the way out, only with the light and shadows shifting with the advance of the sun.  I had used up all my gels and drink getting there, so when I got back to Avenue U, I stopped into a store to pick up some coconut water and a power bar.  A few miles later I was still starving, and craving real food, so I decided if I was training for an ultramarathon, I might as well try fueling like a crazy ultra-runner (ultra-runners tend to eat really weird things on their runs).  So somewhere around 3 hours into my run I stopped into a pizza shop, grabbed a slice, and ate it as I continued to run.  It turns out that it is not, in fact, that hard to eat a slice of pizza while running -- and sure beat downing any more sticky sweet gels.
As I ran and ate, I started thinking about Jesse Scott's insistence that he ran better when fueling on crap like Twizzlers and Slushies, and suddenly had an intense craving for a Slushie.  I knew there was a gas-station mini-mart at Atlantic Avenue,  and for the next two miles I couldn't think of anything other than an ice-cold Cherry Coke Slushie.  Slushie in hand I continued home, and discovered a new danger on long-runs: brain-freeze.

I had a great time on this run, and succeeded in working in all my ultra-lessons that I learned during the Brooklyn Marathon.  I kept up a slow but steady pace, and I every thirty minutes I stopped and walked for two minutes.  I also stopped to take pictures every so often, or whenever I just wanted to look around.  It took me around 4 hours to run 22 miles, which is close to my average pace during the marathon, but instead of doing the first half fast and the second half injured, I did the whole thing slow and ended feeling strong.  And as much as I enjoy the social aspect of a race, I really love four hours being alone in my head and body.  It wasn't "goofy tutu smiley" or "climb a tree smiley" or "high-five some random guy" smiley," but it was smiley none-the-less.  Long, Slow, Ultra Smiley.

[As usual, this is also posted over on my blog,]

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Inaugural Coquitlam Centre Jingle Bell Jog – Race report

[Also published at]

Wow, a race report.  I haven’t done one of these since… well I broke my knee in June.  I did have a 10K scheduled last month, but as I had re-injured my knee around the same time, it proved to be my first ever DNS. Oh well. I like DNS, means I don’t have to remember a string of numbers every time I want to see videos of pets on “Youtube”.  Sorry, that was a very geeky reference – couldn’t help it!  About half of the readership of this blog is going “huh? I don’t get it”.

So it was a 1K kids race around the parking lot and then a 5K jog,  which went up some trail over a few roads -with nice RCMP cops blocking the roads- and a run around a park.  For a 5K –an especially a 5K where I wasn’t planning on running fast or furious – there isn’t much to say. I ran it and then I stopped.  No need to discuss race strategies, fueling plans, pacing or training plans.  The whole race pretty encompassed the ideas of  “turned up, run, finish and get the good muffins”.

Although of course, this is me we are talking about and although I spend my life in boring conformity, I do break the rules occasionally. 

So, first rule broken (and one I break repetitively), I will not dress sensibly.  I had asked D about a month ago if he wanted to run and if he wanted a racing TUTU from Glamrunner.  He said he wanted to race, but he didn’t want a TUTU (despite the fact he had spent a large chunk of his time in one since I brought mine back from NYC).  However, of course, he changed his mind last weekend.  As I knew it was too late to buy one, I decided to make one for him, (sending good vibes to Glamrunner in the process).  He also insisted I have one too, so a plethora of tulle, lots of elastic, ribbon and an evening later, we were the proud owners of 2 Christmas race TUTU’s.  Luckily no cats, dogs, kids or fish were harmed in the making of the TUTU’s although that is probably a close run thing!

We already knew that we were going to be getting Santa Hats and reindeer noses, so all that was left was to figure out was my race music and what shoes to wear (if any).  It had to be Christmas Classics of course; so I had John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bing Crosby and a whole host of other stars to rock too as I ran with one iPod bud in my ear.  Running with music is a contentious issue, but I think you have to have some form of Christmas music accompanying you if you are dressed like the fairy off a Christmas Tree!

Last but not least was what to wear on my feet.  The weather reports seemed to indicate freezing temps at the time of the race.  I had also discovered a patch of eczema on my one of my toes, so barefoot was out. I decided to see if a combination of toe-socks and my Invisible Shoes (6mm) would do the trick.  As you may remember the 4mm was lost in the “urban myth of the NYC Barefoot Run”.  So now I was a gladiatorial Christmas Fairy!

We caused quite a sight at the race start, which we only just managed to catch. D’s race was first and we literally sprinted to the start and we were off.  He was awesome.  I think he ran the whole way, only stopping to pick up his reindeer antlers.  This was so much different to 6 months ago when I had to drag him around the course. The “Mothers’ Day race “was “pre-minimalist shoe” and it showed.  He would never have run this far before, or have such a big grin on his face.  He did awesome and he made so many people smile. 

He had also asked on his Santa list for a “Giant golden trophy” for Christmas. (I haven’t figured that out either). So yesterday I scoured the stores looking for a giant trophy.  I managed to find a small one and it was enough.  I slipped it to Santa and brought D to him after the race.  The look on his face was priceless and you could see that it had made his day

I then went off to my race as M and D went to look for coffee – no point everyone standing in the cold for half an hour as I was running.

I had a few goals for this race.  I was going to smile for all of it. I was only going to run how I felt I should run and not run fast. I was going to thank every volunteer and I was going to sing my Christmas songs.

I achieved every single goal.  My bright neon, funky sandals and I had a blast.  I am glad I was wearing my sandals as we ended up running about a mile or so on gravel trail.  I love these things.  They were light, they were funky, they worked and I was able to really feel the ground.  I passed a few runners tying their shoes and I didn’t have to re-tie my sandals once.  I think I also peeved off a few people.  It must be quite demoralizing when you are huffing and puffing to have someone pass you who isn’t  wearing proper shoes but who is also singing really badly.  I did say “Merry Christmas” to them when I passed, so hopefully they will forgive me.
M and D JUST made it to the finish as I got there.  There were lots of hugs, cuddles and giggles.  It turns out despite my best efforts to take it easy I was 5 minutes quicker than I planned.  I was about 27-28 minutes, which as I haven’t run 5K in about 3 weeks and I haven’t been training properly for 6 months because of my knee I was pretty impressed.  I also know I wasn’t going full belt because apart from the gunk from my cold last week I didn’t feel out of breath at all.  Just goes to show that “Running Christmas Smiley”, isn’t as hard as it looked.  (Also I think a Running TUTU provides magical powers!)